As we sat around the table on Saturday night, I grinned and smiled at each one of my guests, who had traveled across the border to attend my Birthday all the way in Swaziland. We were a total of 11 guests (including myself) seated around a special table that was assembled in the dinning area, right next to a piano player. The ambient lighting set the mood, as the waiters carried through our main courses hidden behind silver domes.
It was supposed to be a happy moment but if I must be honest, I had slipped back into a bad habit of wearing a mask. I was showing all my guests what they needed to see, a happy smiling Liam but the truth of the matter, internally I was feeling anything but happy.
I was overwhelmed; earlier that day my mom had called me and was emotionally distraught because she had brushed her hair, and a whole chunk had fallen out. The chemo is starting to take its tole on her. I was sitting at the table about to dig into an amazing meal and supposed to be happy but my mind was every where else but where it should have been.
Considering the night before I had an unusual psychotic episode which I have never experienced before, it certainly felt very very real. I battled to sleep the night before; as I was kept awake by a crowd of people talking. It felt like 40 different people were talking to me at the same time. I cannot explain it in words but my head was on the pillow; my partner was sleeping but I was subjected to the talking of a crowd talking over one another, each fighting to get my attention. But here’s the kicker, there was no one else in the room with us; I was hearing an abundance of voices in my head, which honestly scared me senseless.
With this playing on my mind; business; an unplanned overseas trip to resolve our accident that took place earlier this year, I couldn’t help but feel like the walls were closing in on me again.
By the time the weekend was up, I was an emotional wreck because I felt like I was losing my mind. I was worried my bipolar was evolving into schizophrenia. I mean flip I was hearing voices in my head.
I chose not to tell my partner because I don’t need him stressing or thinking that I possibly going backwards instead of forward with my mental health.
This past Tuesday I met up with my psychologist after an emotional roller coaster with my father who had come up to see our dentist in Johannesburg. I broke down in her office, crying non stop because I was worried about hearing the voices, and the fact that I have become so forgetful lately.
I explained to her that I feel like I am losing my mind and that I feel like I am possibly going crazy. I expressed my concerns, looking at her for answers to reassure me I am not going insane.
She admitted she was concerned about the voices but at the same time she enlightened me to tell me that I am clearly under sever stress and I clearly had a psychotic episode. She told me that it’s impossible to progress from bipolar to schizophrenia, and that if I had schizophrenia they would have picked it up while I was in hospital (I could breath a sigh of relief).
As she explained, under the sever stress my brain was ‘misfiring’, my brain was sending messages to the part of the brain informing me I was hearing people talking but my other senses such as sight could not see people, hence the psychotic episode. The explanation calmed me down, and she told me that I am actually doing well, so well that I was able to identify the psychotic episode on my own.
For now I have not heard any voices again, but should I have another one of those psychotic episodes, then I’ll have to contact my Doctor the next morning so that it can be medically treated.
It’s a relief to know that I was not going insane and that the voices could be explained, but I am now aware that under sever stress my brain can ‘misfire’ causing me complete confusion. With this knowledge in my pocket I should be able to identify situations like that again and can then reassure myself that I am not going insane.